Cherry Beach was donated to Chikaming Township by the Warren Family in 1922. The Township has the opportunity to purchase and preserve a beautiful, undeveloped parcel of land immediately adjacent to Cherry Beach. The Cherry Beach Committee, a grassroots group of concerned citizens, is helping the Township raise funds and public awareness. This acquisition would protect nearly 3 acres of woods and increase the Park’s current lakefront by more than 2.5 times, from 253 feet to 657 feet. We have 7 miles of lakefront in Chikaming Township. Only 2% is public. A public acquisition will protect this land from private development forever.
In 2018, the Township applied for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant (MNRTF) that would supply 75% of the purchase price. More than 900 individuals, foundations and other organizations enthusiastically came together to pledge more than the required minimum 25% State match or nearly $1.2 million. However, because MNRTF had fewer dollars in its 2018 allocation pool than in recent years to award community acquisition projects, our score fell just below the threshold for available State funds.
After absorbing that disappointing news, the Township, with strong encouragement from Project supporters and MNRTF staff, has decided to reapply for a 2019 grant with a few key changes. To better ensure our chances for success, we will seek to raise 40% of the State match instead of 25% in order to score higher application points. Additionally, the seller has generously agreed to contribute $150,000 towards that increased fundraising goal. Chikaming Township has voted to not only reapply for the grant but to increase its overall pledge to $250,000, up from $175,000 in 2018. Both the Carls Foundation ($250,000) and the Stephen E. Upton Foundation ($50,000) are considering rolling their 2018 Cherry Beach Project grants into the renewed 2019 application cycle. Finally, and just as important, the Berrien Community Foundation (BCF), a tax exempt 501(c)(3), will again act as the project’s financial manager to receive and track all financial pledges.
Even if everyone who pledged in 2018 re-pledges the same amount in 2019, we still must raise over $225,000 more in 2019 to reach the higher 40% match. We will resume fundraising in the spring of 2019 so please watch for more news.
For those who can pledge more, please consider a larger pledge. And if you missed the community effort in 2018 and would like to become a Cherry Beach UNdevelopment Fund supporter, this is the year you can help make a difference.